Garmisch is a real town, a very picturesque and truly authentic Bavarian locale. Garmish-Partenkirchen hosted the 1936 winter Olympics, and is still a regular stop for major events like the World Cup. The town has a nice vibe to it, like you'd expect from a major 4-season resort town.
Easy to get to, only 100 km or so south of Munich, autobahn the whole way. However, the traffic in and out of the village can be horrendous at rush hour. And because Garmisch is so close to Munich and popular, you can expect pretty big crowds on weekends. I arrived a little after noontime on a Sunday, and had a hard time finding a place to park at the Hausberg lift station.
Downhill terrain: good terrain for beginners and intermediates. Advanced skiers will find that there isn't much in the way of off-piste opportunity. A bowl underneath the cliifs to skier's right off the Alpenspitze lift station offers a challenge, but unfortunately the lift arrangement makes it impossible to do laps in this area....you have to ride 2 T-bars, then ski a long catwalk, and then ride a tram to get back to the top! Most of the pistes in this area are below the treeline.
One of the big drawbacks of Garmisch is it's relatively low elevation....the base area is at about 750m. The lower slopes were very, very icy...a product of sunshine and softening snow in that day, and refreezing at night.
Family friendly: I skied here with my family a few years ago, and I think it's a good area for young kids. There are beginner slopes in the Hausberg area, so even youngsters can get the thrill of riding the gondola up into the mountains where they can take in the views. This area has a nice new high-speed six pack, and there's even an enclosed rope tow, to give little tykes a break from the wind...how's that for pampering?
The views of the Zugspitze (at 2900m, the highest peak in Germany) and surrounding mountains are certainly expansive and breathtaking. Bring your camera.
I did not ski the actual Zugspitze area, but found the following comments on www.skigermany.com:
"The Zugspitze is a "must-ski" for those taking a break in Garmisch - but only in the right conditions. As a high mountain area, the bowl can be extremely inhospitable in conditions of poor visibility or snow and wind. On a good day however, the spectacular scenery and normally excellent snow quality will make up for the long journey and sometimes crowded lifts."